Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

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The Iconic Route 82 Bridge

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The Ohio Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga River Valley is one of the most iconic features of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Formally known as the Northfield High-Level Bridge, it soars 145 feet over the valley and has served as the backdrop for countless numbers of photographs of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad trains below.

Built in 1931, it replaced a through-truss bridge at river level that still stands and is part of the towpath trail in the CVNP.

The Route 82 bridge features large majestic concrete arches that I’ve focused on capturing in this photo essay.

All were made from the towpath trail along the former Ohio & Erie Canal. Some use the Cuyahoga River and the canal to create reflections while others merely seem to capture the enormity of the structure.

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I’ll be at Barnes & Noble in Akron

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Just a reminder that I’ll be at the Barnes & Nobel bookstore in Akron tonight signing my latest book, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The signing will be between 7 and 9 p.m. at the store at 3015 Medina Road. Seven other authors will also be on hand to discuss and sign their books.

Hope to see you there.

I’m Gonna Be Like Him, Yeah

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When I made this image my purpose was to catch a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad volunteer trainman in a candid moment.

He was standing by the entrance gate to the platform at the CVSR station in Independence, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. I’m not sure if he knew I had photographed him.

He seems preoccupied thinking about the work facing him in the boarding of his passengers.

He was assigned to a steam excursion train that I and hundreds of others were ticketed to ride.

But first the regular CVSR passenger train, which can be seen in the background, had to finish its work in the station before the steam train could board its passengers.

It was after I downloaded this image that I noticed the boy to the left who appears to be looking at the trainman.

Maybe he isn’t, and maybe it’s just my imagination. But the expression on the boy’s face caught my attention. He seems to have a look of admiration as through he is impressed with the trainmen and their uniforms.

If so, he belongs to a long line of children who were awe struck in seeing railroad conductors and trainmen in their passenger uniforms while at work on their trains.

Presumably, over the decades of passenger train travel, boys have looked up to conductors and wanted to follow in their footsteps. Many might have done so, although that is more likely to have occurred in another time than today.

Although it was written for a different context, the words to the Harry Chapin song Cat’s in the Cradle came to my mind. “I’m gonna be like him, yeah. You know I’m gonna be like him.”

Maybe this boy will some day become a CVSR volunteer so that he, too, can wear a passenger uniform.

That dream might have started here while he waited to board a train.

Written by csanders429

September 19, 2017 at 7:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Stepping Back in Time at America’s Oldest Hot Dog Stand

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Bagging the Coneys to go at Fort Waynes (sic) Famous Coney Island restaurant.

Bagging the Coneys to go at Fort Waynes (sic) Famous Coney Island restaurant.

I was in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, because that was where the steam train excursion had ended. We had a few hours to kill before the train returned to Detroit so I went walking around to find some things to photograph.

That was how I happened upon Ft.Waynes (sic) Famous Coney Island restaurant.

Although it was a Sunday afternoon, the place was crowded because other passengers from the train had gone looking for a place to eat. The Three Rivers Festival also was going on downtown.

Founded in 1914, Coney Island claims to be the oldest hot dog stand in America.

The place is frozen in time. The restaurant’s website says that the ceiling has changed and the employees dress more casually now, but otherwise it looks much the same as it did in the 1930s.

It was curiosity as much as anything that prompted me to go inside and take a look.

There was a row of tables along one wall and a long counter along the other. Immediately on the left just inside the entrance was the food preparation area and cash register. All the tables were taken as were all of the seats at the counter.

This place was a period piece all right, so I reached into my camera bag for my camera and began making photographs.

Back in my childhood days in downstate Illinois, downtown was the place where people went to shop, socialize and eat. There were a couple of hamburger joints that were long and narrow, and it was a treat to eat lunch there.

And so it is with Ft.Waynes Famous Coney Island.

I saw little retail during my stroll around downtown Fort Wayne and few businesses of any kind that were open. Much to my disappointment, even the newsstand was closed.

But Coney Island was open and doing a brisk business. Its website says business is good enough to remain open until 8 p.m. on Sundays, 10 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Stepping into the Coney Island is like stepping back in time—maybe not all the way to 1914, when it opened, but back to the days when going out for a couple of hot dogs was considered a real treat,” wrote Cindy Larson in the historical sketch on the restaurant’s website.

The sketch spoke about how in contemporary times Fort Wayne residents still come downtown during the Christmas season to look at lights and stop in at Coney Island for a bite to eat. Such traditions have kept Coney Island alive when so many other downtown eateries have folded due to lack of business.

I had not intended to order anything at Coney Island but the pull of nostalgia and the sight of those Coneys was too much to resist.

I got a couple of Coneys to go and ate them while sitting on a bench on the grounds of the Allen County Courthouse.

How many generations of lawyers, judges and others had engaged in the same ritual over the years?

The Coneys were good and I regret that I won’t be back in Fort Wayne anytime soon to enjoy another Coney.

Slatering on the chilli sauce . . .

Slatering on the chilli sauce . . .

 . . . and putting on the onions.

. . . and putting on the onions.

Long and narrow like the downtown eateries I remembered eating lunch at when I was a child.

Long and narrow like the downtown eateries I remembered eating lunch at when I was a child.

Ketchup and mustard stand ready to be applied in the food preparation area. The sight of hot dogs on the grill by the front window has, not doubt, drawn in many customers over the years.

Ketchup and mustard stand ready to be applied in the food preparation area. The sight of hot dogs on the grill by the front window has, not doubt, drawn in many customers over the years.

fwa-coney-island-sign-x

 

Bird’s Eye View of Suburban Sprawl

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PHX April 12 06

It was early evening when my flight to Phoenix reached the Valley of the Sun. Since my Dad moved to Arizona in May 2014 I’ve been flying to Arizona twice a year from Ohio to visit him.

So the view as on final approach to Sky Harbor Airport is starting to look familiar.

The sun is about to set everything has that late day light warm glow to it unless it is encased in shadows. From up above, it looks so neat and orderly.

As far as I can see, though, is row upon row of suburban housing with some mountains in the distance. It is those mountains that suggests that this is the West and not another Midwest city.

It is not home but it is beginning to have a home-like feel.

RIP Day Lilies! See You Next Year

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I made a startling discovery today. All of the day lilies that line our driveway and the east side of the garage are gone. Oh, the plants are still there. But the blooms are finished for the season.

When did that happen?

I could have sworn that just a day or so ago they were in full bloom. And now they are gone?

Mary Ann says that the day lilies began blooming earlier this year due to abnormally warm winter. So they must have played out earlier, too.

I was going to photograph them in all of their glory, but you can guess what happened. I’ll do it tomorrow. In the past, there always seemed to be a tomorrow for the day lilies.

It is still early July. Last year I took photographs of the day lilies on July 21. I know that because I had just gotten my new camera the day before and I wanted to check it out.

But this isn’t last year and day lilies don’t last forever.

There are number of plants like that at our house that have a brief, but sweet, season. I know that but every year it still seems to surprise and dismay me when that season is over.

But I just started to enjoy the lilac bush. Too late! It’s still there, but the blooms are gone. Wait ‘til next year. Ditto the tulips.

Everything seems to have a short season except the crab grass. It is doing just fine.

The day lilies will be back. Next year I better not dawdle. But I’ve said that before.

Written by csanders429

July 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Curtains for Etkachrome, but Few Tears Here

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This not only is likely to be the last box of Ektachrome that I buy, but it also may be my last roll of slide film.

If Kodak’s announcement early this month that it will cease making Ektachrome, its last line of slide film, had been made a year ago, I would have been concerned. A year ago at this time I was still photographing exclusively with slide film. My conversion to digital photography was nowhere in sight.

But the announcement came on March 1, 2012 and not March 1, 2011. I made the switch to digital last July and haven’t bought a roll of slide film since.

Although I never shot exclusively with Ektachrome, it was the film that I bought the most often during my final months as a film shooter. That’s because the suburban Dodd Camera store that I frequented always had Ektachrome in stock. It did not stock the Fuji slide films that I favored, Provia and Velvia.

To get Fuji film, I had to drive to Dodd’s downtown store or have the film sent via a special order to the suburban store. The latter option was time consuming.

When Provia became almost impossible to find anywhere last summer, I found myself buying Ektachrome more often.

Ektachrome always seemed to be the poor cousin to Kodachrome, which developed a cult-like following because, as Paul Simon sang in his epic song Kodachrome, “you give us those nice bright colors.”

Ektachrome had good color quality, too, which is why I liked it. But with film, there is often an emotional attachment. How many photographers did you know who shot one type of film and one type of film only? 

The big upside to Kodachrome was that it was said to be permanent. No color shifts or fading over time. Freeze the image in the processing and it would live that way forever.

Not so Ektachrome. Just ask any veteran photographer and he’ll show you a tray full of Ektachrome slides from the 1960s that have faded.

Besides, Ektachrome had a bluish cast, photographers would say. Who wants to be blue?

Even the Kodachrome box in its red and gold was more vibrant than a blue and gold Ektachrome box. “Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah!” Indeed.

But Kodachrome was also a complicated film to process and far fewer labs could handle it than could handle Ektachrome. Another advantage to Ektachrome was that it could be developed in a home lab, not that many photographers did that.

Ektachrome came in 100, 200 and 400 ISO, but I always preferred the 200 speed. The 100 speed was too slow for my zoom lens in many conditions and 400 was too grainy. The 200 seemed to work well most of the time.

But not always. The ability of digital cameras to change ISO settings for every shot was a major factor that convinced me to go digital and forsake film.

At the time that I went digital, I thought I would still shoot some slide film every now and then. My film camera still works fine and it is hard to give up old habits. I hate the thought of not using something that is still functional.

But once I went to digital, it became unlikely that I would even shoot slides “now and then.” Being digital was more advantageous than I had imagined that it would be. My Canon 60D is a better camera and can do far more than my Canon Rebel G.

Yet I still had a roll of film in my Rebel G and two other rolls of Ektachrome in my refrigerator.

Most of that film I shot off in August and early October. But my last roll of Ektachrome is still in my Rebel G and I have nine frames left. I still haven’t decided what will be the subject of “the last nine.”

Kodak’s announcement has tempted me to buy a few rolls of Ektachrome for old time’s sake.

But that probably won’t happen. I imagine the hard core slide film shooters have already descended in droves upon camera stores – about the last places in American where you can still buy Ektachrome – and snapped up as much of the remaining inventory as possible.

That is going to take awhile.

Kodak indicated that Ektachrome will be available for several more months as the company works through its existing inventory of the film. Ektachrome won’t completely go away, either. Kodak will, for now, continue to make Ektachrome movie film. But the company acknowledged that the market for that product is way down.

Maybe it’s not too late. Those Norfolk Southern heritage units that are going to be plying the rails soon would look good on Ektachrome. Sounds like I have a plan for my last nine frames.